Tag: reproductive health

(TRIGGER WARNING) Comparing Bernie Sanders to a domestic abuser minimizes domestic abuse

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a tweet that includes an image depicting violence against women. Reader discretion is strongly advised.


The Democratic Party is being increasingly dominated by two forms of progressivism. One form of progressivism prioritizes human rights issues, especially in regards to women’s reproductive rights, over other issues. This form of progressivism is associated with very liberal voters who voted for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries/caucuses, who are the core base of support, although not 100% of the support, of the resistance to the Trump Administration. The other form of progressivism prioritizes economic issues, especially in regards to efforts to reduce income inequality, over other issues. This form of progressivism is very strongly associated with Bernie Sanders, in fact, Sanders has often by criticized by progressive critics of Sanders for having supported candidates for public office who oppose abortion rights (although Bernie himself has a very pro-choice voting record as a U.S. Senator) and not regarding reproductive rights as an important issue.

Sanders has come under extremely heavy criticism for publicly endorsing Omaha, Nebraska mayoral candidate Heath Mello, who, as a member of Nebraska’s unicameral state legislature, voted for legislation that required doctors to give women who consider terminating a pregnancy a list of ultrasound providers. Although Mello has publicly disavowed his past support for anti-abortion legislation, the bill that he supported as a state legislator was designed purely to shame women, and nobody can re-write history.

Sanders’s support for Mello has prompted a large amount of criticism from progressive critics of Sanders. While most of the criticism has been over the fact that Sanders has, despite being pro-choice himself, endorsed anti-choice politicians from time to time, as well as Sanders not regarding women’s rights issues as important, there has been at least one example of criticism of Sanders that goes straight into the gutter of American politics. This was a tweet that somebody going under the alias “BroStoogeRally” posted about Bernie endorsing Jon Ossoff, a pro-choice and anti-interventionist Democrat who is running in a special election in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia:

Really? Bernie endorses a candidate with a realistic chance of winning a U.S. House seat that was previously held by a Republican who is now a member of the Trump Cabinet, and this guy has the gall to compare Bernie to a domestic abuser? Bernie is, to my knowledge, not a domestic abuser, and comparing someone like Bernie to a domestic abuser minimizes violence against women, which is a serious problem in America. Although these statistics date back to no later than late 2014, nearly 5 million American women each year experience physical violence by an intimate partner, one in four American women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner, and over 38 million American women have experienced physical intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetimes. It is inherently clear that domestic violence is a major problem in America, and using graphic images of domestic violence to compare political figures who aren’t domestic abusers to domestic abusers minimizes the serious problem in America that is domestic violence.

GOP Congressman Adam Kinzinger owes Planned Parenthood an apology

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of the 16th Congressional District of Illinois (much of north-central and parts of east-central Illinois, stretching from South Beloit in Winnebago County to Sheldon in Iroquois County) falsely claimed that Planned Parenthood was wrong to claim that its Colorado Springs, Colorado office was the target of a terrorist attack that started earlier today:

The truth of the matter is that the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic was (apparently) the target of the Colorado Springs shooting (which is still an ongoing situation as I write this blog post), as ABC News is reporting that, according to law enforcement, the shooting began at the clinic. Planned Parenthood has every right to claim that they were the target of a terrorist attack, and Adam Kinzinger owes Planned Parenthood and the American people an apology.

Republican Wisconsin Assemblywoman Janel Brandtjen compares women to cars and refers to women as sex objects

In Wisconsin State Assembly debate on legislation to prohibit federal funding to be used for women’s reproductive health care, Wisconsin State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menominee Falls) referred to Planned Parenthood as a maintenance garage and falsely claimed that Planned Parenthood treats women like sex objects:

Where the hell did Brandtjen get her expertise about women’s reproductive health? Motor Trend magazine? The truth of the matter is that Brandtjen, despite being female herself, has zero understanding of women’s health issues and apparently thinks that women’s reproductive health measures are like fixing a transmission on a car, which is obviously not the case, since women don’t have any kind of car parts inside of them.

Also, Planned Parenthood does not treat women like sex objects. Planned Parenthood, which Republicans and what few anti-women’s health Democrats are still in office have long wanted to defund at every level of government in this country, treats women like people who have a right to control their own bodies.

Women’s health care is a serious issue, and the Republican approach to women’s health care in this country would lead to more unintended pregnancies, more sexually transmitted diseases, and more pregnant women dying.

Bernie Sanders stands up for Planned Parenthood and calls for expanding funding for women’s health care

While reducing rampant income inequality and ending the culture of big-money politics in this country are two of the main causes of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, he’s also a staunch supporter for reproductive rights. In a recent fundraising email, Bernie called for increasing funding for women’s health care, not defunding women’s health care like what the far-right Republicans who control Congress and are running for president want to do:

Let me tell you what I believe: we need to be spending a lot more money on women’s health care. We need to be investing in organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide absolutely essential health services for women, particularly in low-income communities.

And Americans need a president who knows women in this nation deserve a whole lot more than $3 a person for health care.

Regarding Bernie’s claim about spending $3/woman on women’s reproductive health care, that’s a reference to Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush complaining about spending “half a billion dollars for women’s health issues”. If the U.S. spent $500,000,000 annually on women’s reproductive health care (I’m not sure what the actual figure is, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were close to that figure), that would translate to, rounded to the nearest cent, $3.19 per woman, since there were 156,964,212 women (50.8% of total U.S. population) in the United States as of the 2010 U.S. Census. Rounded to the nearest whole dollar ($3.19 rounded to nearest whole dollar is $3), Bernie’s claim is correct.

It’s common sense to increase funding and access to reproductive health care. Reproductive health care organizations like Planned Parenthood provide a wide array of reproductive health care services designed to prevent abortions and stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health services to men, in addition to reproductive health services to women.

The push by Republicans and right-wing smear artists to defund reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood have had disastrous consequences in Indiana, where a Republican-led push to defund Planned Parenthood resulted in an HIV outbreak in Southern Indiana. This is one of many reasons why we need more public funding, not less, for reproductive health care.

PRE-ENDORSEMENT: Oren Jacobson for 3rd Congressional District of Illinois

Oren Jacobson, a tech entrepreneur, has formed an exploratory committee to look at a possible run for the Democratic nomination in the 3rd Congressional District of Illinois, which is currently held by conservative Democrat Dan Lipinski.

You can watch a video of Jacobson’s exploratory committee announcement here:

Jacobson would be a significant improvement over Lipinski, who is one of the worst Democrats to hold any kind of elected office in the entire country. When it comes to health care, Jacobson supports increasing federal funding for research in search of cures for the most devastating illnesses and diseases that affect Americans. While Jacobson hasn’t formally entered the race in the 3rd District, which includes parts of Chicago and numerous suburban communities between Chicago and Joliet, at this time, his campaign has already been endorsed by Blue America, a political action committee that supports progressive-minded Democrats for public office.

In the current Congress, Lipinski has voted more often with John Boehner’s Republicans than his own party, and, when it comes to women’s rights, Lipinski has stood with right-wing extremists who want to control women’s bodies and deny them the reproductive health care services they need or want. Lipinski is such an staunch opponent of women’s rights, he voted against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because he thinks that politicians like himself and his far-right Republican allies should control women’s bodies.

While I live in a different region of Illinois, I believe that Oren Jacobson would make a great representative of the 3rd Congressional District of Illinois, and I encourage Democrats and progressives in that part of our state to strongly support his candidacy.

Virginia feminist Erin Matson schools Senate Democrats on women’s rights and political messaging

Erin Matson, a Virginia progressive activist and reproductive rights supporter, sharply criticized U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for including “defending a woman’s right to choose” on a survey that was sent out by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which is led by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). Matson responded by saying that Democrats should “stop defending and act to expand abortion access!”.

You can view Matson’s response to the DSCC survey here. Here’s what Matson said about Democratic messaging on reproductive rights, as well as a few other important issues, on her blog:

The voter priorities suggestions are instructive. We can — and should — raise the minimum wage,reform campaign finance law, regulate Wall Street and big banking, and expand health care coverage. These are all positive goals, and activist goals at that. (Beyond the abortion whopper, WHICH WE’LL GET TO NEXT, notice that the only other negative statement of priority refers to “protecting” Social Security and Medicare. Figures. Expansions to these programs would disproportionately benefit women, since women tend to live longer and have fewer savings.)

But “defending a woman’s right to choose” is laughable because people are faced with a reproductive health care crisis today in large part due to very new laws that restrict the human rights and dignity of women.

Abortion clinics are closing, y’all. Terrorist group Operation Rescue claims that three out of four abortion clinics that were open in 1991 are no longer open today — and that 73 clinics closed last year.

So when Harry Reid sends out a mailer in early 2015 saying we need to “defend” a woman’s right to choose, I frankly wonder what the Jupiter he is talking about. How much is left to defend? The financial and logistical barriers to abortion created and approved by elected officials of all parties means this country is filled with women who can’t “choose” their way out of a one-way street.

While Democrats and reproductive rights supporters aren’t currently in a position to actually implement any reproductive rights measures at the federal level, Matson is right in that there really isn’t a whole lot left for pro-women’s rights Democrats to defend when it comes to reproductive rights. Since Roe v. Wade became law of the land over four decades ago, Republicans and anti-abortion Democrats have enacted restrictive legislation at the federal and state levels of government making it harder for women to get the reproductive health care they want or need. Not only is it getting harder and harder for women to get an abortion, it’s getting harder and harder for women to access basic reproductive health measures, such as contraception. Democrats need to start talking about expanding reproductive rights in this country, not merely “defending a woman’s right to choose”, as Democrats talking about merely “defending a woman’s right to choose” makes it sound like Democrats aren’t really interested in making it easier for women to access reproductive health procedures.

Sadly, this is only one example of Democrats absolutely sucking at political messaging.

Crisis pregnancy center in my home county in Illinois caught violating patient privacy by local media

The Women’s Care Clinic of Danville (WCC), a crisis pregnancy center located in Danville, Illinois, which is located in Vermilion County, posted pictures of the sonogram of a pregnant woman’s fetus on their Facebook page and stated that the woman had scheduled an abortion and wanted people to pray that the woman would change her mind and not had the pregnancy terminated.

WCIA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Champaign, ran a segment on one of their local newscasts earlier today calling WCC out for violating patient privacy. While I’m not going to directly link to the article about this story on their website, illinoishomepage.net, as the online article includes a video that shows the sonogram in question, and it would be unethical for me to post or link to anything containing the sonogram in question, this is from their online article, titled “Clinic’s post causes privacy concerns” and dated February 11, 2015:

A picture of an unborn baby is causing controversy online. An area clinic posted what leaders say was a picture from a patient’s sonogram. It’s raising the issue of privacy. The clinic took the post down the same day it went up.

The Women’s Care Clinic of Danville says the image was removed because comments were “too negative.” The post shows a sonogram picture stating the baby’s mother had scheduled an abortion and asked people to pray she would change her mind.

But, clinic managers say they don’t know if the picture is an actual sonogram from the patient mentioned in the post. They say they didn’t identify who it was, so it wasn’t an invasion of privacy, adding clients agree any images can be used for promotion or education.

WCIA’s online article went on to describe WCC as an organization that “provides counseling and support groups for post-abortion” and that WCC stated that “asking for prayers for certain clients” is normal operating procedure for them.

Here’s my thoughts about this:

  • WCIA used a considerable amount of anti-abortion framing in their TV report about the WCC posting a sonogram online, which is not surprising given the fact that WCIA’s local newscasts have a heavy right-wing bias. For example, “Picture of an unborn baby” is not the medically correct term for a sonogram of a fetus; “sonogram of a fetus” is the medically correct term for that. Also, the reason why comments on WCC’s Facebook page got “too negative” is because WCC operates in a highly unethical manner, and those who made “negative” comments on their Facebook page were rightfully criticizing them for operating in a highly unethical manner.
  • WCIA is just as guilty as WCC is of violating patient privacy since they showed the sonogram, both on television and online, in fact, one could argue that WCIA is even more guilty of violating patient privacy than WCC is, since I’m guessing that a local newscast on WCIA has a considerably larger audience than WCC’s Facebook page, even though WCIA is located in what I’d call a medium-small local TV market.
  • While WCIA didn’t explicitly refer to WCC as a “crisis pregnancy center”, they did mention that WCC regularly asks people to pray that their patients who are considering whether or not to have an abortion decide not to terminate a pregnancy and offer post-abortion counseling, which is a huge indicator to me that WCC is a crisis pregnancy center, regardless of whether or not they refer to themselves as such. Crisis pregnancy centers are organizations that claim to be legitimate women’s health clinics, when, in reality, they’re actually organizations that are primarily set up to shame pregnant women by, among other tactics, doing everything possible to discourage pregnant women who want to have abortions from getting abortions and spreading false information about women’s reproductive health. While I don’t know if WCC is doing the latter, it’s obvious to me that they’re doing the former.
  • Regardless of whether or not the names of patients are disclosed, it’s still highly unethical and an invasion of medical privacy for a women’s health clinic of any kind to publicly post sonograms or other types of medical records for promotional purposes.

Every effort should be made to shut down these unethical, woman-shaming crisis pregnancy centers across the country and make legitimate women’s health clinics available in areas of this country where women would currently have to travel long distances in order to get to a legitimate women’s health clinic.